Microsoft announces at its Worldwide Partner Conference that Azure, its public cloud platform, will be free until the Professional Developers Conference in November. Intended to go head-to-head against similar cloud platform offerings from Amazon.com and Google, Azure is just one of the flagship programs that Microsoft has been demonstrating at the conference, along with Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010.
will make Azure, its public cloud platform, available for free until its
Professional Developers Conference in November. Azure will be available beginning
Citing a Gartner study that showed cloud services as a potential "$150
billion business opportunity for the marketplace," Doug Hauger, general
manager of Microsoft Azure, said after taking the stage at Microsoft's
Worldwide Partner Conference July 14 that Azure "will go commercial in
Microsoft is proposing three ways for customers to consume the platform. The
first will be "consumption," a pay-as-you-go model. The second will
be a subscription-based format. The third will operate on volume licensing.
Once commercial availability and the price structure go into effect, the "consumption"
model will cost 12 cents per hour for infrastructure usage, and another 15
cents per gigabyte for storage. The business edition of the SQL Azure database,
at 10GB, will cost $99.99. For all three types of Azure services, users will
need to pay 10 cents per gigabyte for incoming data, and 15 cents for outgoing
Azure will eventually go head-to-head against similar offerings from
Amazon.com and Google. Originally announced on Oct. 27, 2008 at the Professional Developers
Conference in Los Angeles, Azure
relies on a network of distributed data centers to deliver SAAS (software as a
service) to users.
"Now is the time to build Windows Azure applications," Hauger said.
The reason why the Azure platform is cost-free for five months, he indicated, is
to "build the market momentum" as developers figure out how to best
integrate the platform with their existing businesses. In order to achieve
further penetration, Microsoft plans to offer discounts for partners, allowing
partners to charge their customers for applications and services built on the
Hauger suggested that moving onto the Azure platform will make developers
and IT administrators more agile, with "quick time to market and making
sure you deliver solutions very, very quickly."
Despite increased emphasis in the enterprise on cloud-based platforms such
as Azure and Google Apps, the
companies behind them are still wrestling with how to offer continuous uptime.
Between March 13 and 14, the early test release version of Azure experienced an
outage that left users without service for 22 hours. In February, a Google
outage downed Gmail and Google Apps for roughly 2.5 hours.
Azure is just one piece of what Microsoft has been rolling out in New
During the four days of the Worldwide Partner Conference, taking place from
July 13 to 16 in New Orleans,
Microsoft plans to demonstrate Office 2010, Windows 7, Silverlight 3, Windows
Mobile 6.5 and Windows Server 2008. In addition to Microsoft CEO
Steve Ballmer, other high-profile speakers include former General Electric CEO
A number of Microsoft's flagship next-generation products, including Office 2010,
SharePoint Server 2010, Visio 2010 and Project 2010, have reached the technical
preview engineering milestone.
In a sign that Microsoft is attempting to evolve with the times, Microsoft
Office 2010 will be launched as an online service free to subscribers of
Microsoft Live. The move seems to be a counter to Google and other companies
rolling out cloud-based productivity applications. Office 2010 will also be
offered as a hosted subscription service and an on-premises application, for
businesses unwilling to move their productivity application entirely into the
In addition to Office 2010, Microsoft has been using the conference to
highlight Windows 7, for which it plans a suitably massive ramp-up heading to
the operating system's Oct. 22 release. Although Microsoft is depending on the
operating system to boost its revenues in the midst of the recession and to
eliminate bad memories of Vista, it may face an uphill battle when it comes to
enterprise adoption; a survey by ScriptLogic suggested that six
out of 10 companies would avoid purchasing Windows 7
at the time of its
That same survey, based on responses from 1,000 companies, found that about 34
percent expected to adopt Windows 7 by December 2010, while another 5.4 percent
planned on having Windows 7 operating by the end of 2009. The reluctance on the
part of IT administrators to adopt the system at its launch was chalked up
mostly to concerns over cost and interoperability with pre-existing applications.
(Microsoft has attempted to address the latter concern by designing Windows 7
to run applications built specifically for Windows XP.)
Nonetheless, Microsoft plans to disseminate Windows 7 aggressively on a
worldwide basis through a combination of price cuts and retailer sales. In
addition to discounts for business volume purchasers, Microsoft plans to sell
Windows 7 for about 10 percent less than Windows Vista.
Editor's Note: This
story has been updated with a pricing structure for Azure once it goes